STATE goalkeeping coach and North Armidale coach Andy Lennon was on hand at UNE last week, training the next generation of goalkeepers.
Lennon was one of 18 coaches at the Armidale camp, which was one of the first in the state teaching the new Football Federation Australia Curriculum.
Fourteen of the state’s best 11- and 12-year-old goalkeepers attended the four day camp, representing six out of seven NSW zones.
While the camp for the most talented junior players in the state happens every year, this was the first year the new Skill Acquisition Program was implemented.
The SAP is based more on individual skills and attack than previous models, and has even changed the way goalkeeping is being taught to up and coming glove men.
“The drills are putting the kids in more isolated situations,” Lennon said.
“There is a lot more game-related drills where the kids have a set target to shoot at.”
“The new program works on changing directions, ball handling, positioning and decision making.”
The field player program has been stripped back to four core skills, and so has the goalkeeping program.
The core skills are hands out in a W, Cupping the ball, scooping the ball, and a collapsed save.
Also in line with the field players’ program, the keepers’ program is age targeted.
The nine to 13 group are mostly focused on good ball handling skills, before getting into the more technical aspects as they get older.
“Most of these guys will be looking at getting selected to go to the Nationals at the end of the season,” Lennon said.
“That gives us a lot of time to prepare for it and implement the new program.”
Lennon has decided to put his own gloves away this season and coach Norths from the sideline.
The outstanding goalkeeper is already struggling with the idea of not being on the field, although he can see a silver lining.
“It is time for some young blokes to come through and take over,” Lennon said.
“I think I will be able to coach a lot better from the sideline so it will be better for the club.”
Norths will also be missing key forward and coach Dave Griffiths this year who is heading overseas.
“That is obviously a big loss for the club,” Lennon said.
“We have a lot of good young blokes who got us to the semis last year.”
“With a bit more experience now, we should go pretty close again.”